Imagine that you are at a cocktail party filled with the greatest and most innovative educational minds in the country world. Over by the fireplace, Arne Duncan, former US Secretary of Education, is chatting with Todd Whitaker, noted author of What Great Teachers Do Differently. Dave Burgess, educational/motivational speaker and author of Teach Like a Pirate, is in deep conversation about student engagement with educational innovator, Alan November. On the wall, a big-screen TV streams an inspirational video made by at-risk students. Over in the corner, teachers from across an entire school district are using social media to tell their district’s story. You can join any conversation you want or, if that’s out of your comfort zone, you can sit back, listen, and learn.
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That’s the Twitter world. Yes, Twitter is also a vehicle for celebrity rants and frivolous banter but, like so many other things, it’s all about how you use it. I am a Twitter newbie myself, but I pulled together some resources that can help you get started. First, check out this great handbook written especially for teachers! It explains how to set up your account, gives you some suggestions for people to follow, and introduces hashtags and how to use them. On a personal note, when you set up your account, be sure to add a picture and a brief profile. It makes the Twitter experience much more personal when you can “see” a person and read a little about them.
So, a wise Twitter guru told me it was all about the hashtags, and I think that simple piece of advice greatly demystified the Twitter experience. The hashtags I started with were #edchat and #mathchat. On the first Saturday morning after I joined, I actually jumped in on #satchat (yes, it was a little scary, but such great conversations!). Thursday nights are reserved for the very popular and lively #elemmathchat.
Hashtags are used to tag tweets for search purposes, but they are also used to organize scheduled, moderated chats. For more on that and to find chats that might interest you, check out this website.
I hope this post has sparked a little interest! Please comment and share your Twitter experiences.